PHILADELPHIA, PA. October 7, 2013: There is finally vindication for former Temple University football player, Praise Martin-Oguike, who lost his football career, his scholarship and his dignity. His record is now clean. Praise Martin-Oguike says it has been 17 months of hell. “It’s been tough. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s somewhere that nobody wants to be.”
It began on Memorial Day Weekend 2012. He was 18 years old at the time and was accused by the 21-year-old fellow student that he was dating at the time, of raping and assaulting her inside a dorm room on Temple University’s campus. The freshman Temple Owl linebacker was ostracized, stripped of his athletic scholarship, kicked out of Temple and vilified nationally and on the internet.
“Everything that went on Twitter and all over the internet, it was just tough to handle for me. When it first happened, I didn’t know what to think; I didn’t know where to go. I just kept trusting God and that’s what kept me through,” Martin-Oguike said.
Martin-Oguike’s lawyer James Funt, a partner at Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, says it wasn’t until they secured his accuser’s phone records and internet chats that the truth was revealed. “Thousands of texts, thousands of chats to close confidantes that ultimately revealed exactly what we had said from the beginning, that these were false allegations,” defense lawyer James Funt said. Mr. Funt said charges were dropped after a review of the woman’s text messages with her friends indicated she was not truthful about being raped.
Praise says he holds no grudges against his accuser. “I got to look at it in a positive way. It made me a better person. I learned a lot from the whole experience and moving forward,” Praise said.
The district attorney’s office has not said if it will pursue criminal charges against the woman for making false allegations. Praise Martin-Oguike says while he has not heard back from Temple officials, he hopes to be able to return to the university and eventually attend medical school.
The Legal Intelligencer — August 14, 2013
After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court restored the use of indicting grand juries for cases involving witness intimidation, the First Judicial District has been addressing a series of concerns about Philadelphia’s application of the charging tool. Several issues have become topics of discussion such as the defendant’s; access to the material presented to the grand jury and protecting the constitutional rights of witnesses who give incriminating testimony. Another issue is whether defendants will be held in jail for long periods of time while their cases go through the indicting grand jury process.
The Legal Intelligencer interviewed attorneys Michael Engle and Ron Greenblatt in a recent article, “Grand Juries on Witness Intimidation Are Challenged”. Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores attorneys Michael Engle with Ronald Greenblatt and other defense attorneys are challenging the validity of the Supreme Court’s authorization of indicting grand juries. They argue that the substantive rights of criminal defendants are affected and the change was not a matter that the court could enact in a procedural rule.
“While there is witness intimidation and it does occur, it doesn’t happen to the extent the commonwealth is making it out to be or that the judges are even buying into,” said Michael J. Engle, of Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, in an interview. “It’s not as rampant as they are making it sound.”
Attorney Ronald Greenblatt added, “This crosses the line into fundamental unfairness.”